Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Where is meaning located?

Each morning I wake up inside the same head I fell asleep in. Once I’m awake I accompany myself wherever I go during the day. Somehow my awareness is tied to this specific body; even in the midst of other people and different social contexts this link is constant. It follows that the people around us and the society we live in can only temporarily define us; if we rely on these things to give us meaning, we ignore or suppress that which is constant in the different circumstances we encounter: our own self.

Therefore, meaning is located not in the external environment as knowledge moving towards us, but in the opposite direction; meaning is in us as we reach out for the external environment. In other words, meaning is not in the team we support, the religion we believe, the society we live in, the clothes we wear, our peer group, the prognosis of a disease or who we are compared to. Meaning is grounded in our internal self: in how we think, how secure we are in our own skin, why we hold a particular belief and how we relate to ourselves.

Meaning, which is always in relation to a subjective knower, is determined and therefore limited by the state in which the knower exists. This determination is manifest in our ability to choose. For example, Parkinson’s disease is part of the state in which I exist but its meaning is entirely my choice. Seeing the prognosis of Parkinson’s as a rigid future requires me to actively suppress alternative possibilities (e.g. the future is unknown); the meaning of the prognosis as rigid future isn’t imposed externally, it is accepted internally.

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